Share This Page

CF McCutchen returns to lineup, but Braves blast fast-fading Pirates

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 7:09 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen reacts after being called out on strikes during the first inning against the Braves Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen kneels at home plate after grounding out during the sixth inning against the Braves Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Braves' Andrelton Simmons scores past Pirates catcher Russell Martin during the second inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte watches as fans battle for a home run ball hit by the Braves' Justin Upton during the third inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano walks from the mound after giving up a three-run home run to the Braves' Justin Upton during the third inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Braves' Andrelton Simmons steals second base next to the Pirates ' Neil Walker during the second inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Braves right fielder Jason Heyward makes a leaping catch at the outfield wall on a ball hit by the Pirates' Travis Snider during the first inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown smiles in the Pirates dugout after taking batting practice with the team before a game against the Braves Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen takes his position in center field during the first inning against the Braves Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Braves' Andrelton Simmons scores past Pirates catcher Russell Martin during the second inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the plate against the Braves during the first inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano reacts after giving up a three-run home run to the Braves' Justin Upton during the third inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen bats against the Braves during the first inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Braves' Justin Upton high-fives Phil Gosselin after hitting a three-run homer, as Pirates catcher Russell Martin watches during the third inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen catches a ball hit by the Braves' Evan Gattis during the third inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the plate against the Braves during the first inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano exits the game against the Braves during the fifth inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Braves' Justin Upton celebrates his three-run homer next to Pirates catcher Russell Martin during the third inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen grounds out during the sixth inning against the Braves Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Braves pitcher Aaron Harang delivers to the plate against the Pirates during the second inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen throws the ball to home plate after a hit by Braves pitcher Aaron Harang during the second inning Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at PNC Park.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle knew for certain late Monday night that Andrew McCutchen would come off the disabled list before Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Braves.

“I was charged up,” Hurdle said, then laughed. “The whole ride home, I was honking the horn and waving out the window, ‘He's baaaack!' ”

Atlanta spoiled McCutchen's return Tuesday by rolling to an 11-3 victory.

The free fall that began while McCutchen was on the DL continued to accelerate. The Pirates have lost seven games in a row for the first time since Sept. 7-14, 2012.

McCutchen had not played since Aug. 3, when he suffered a rib cartilage injury on a swing. The Pirates went 5-8 without McCutchen in the lineup.

“We were in a pretty good place for a while, then we stumbled at the end,” Hurdle said. “So we're all happy to have him back. He solidifies the middle of the lineup, lets us move guys back into the normal positions where they'd been hitting. He's ready to go.”

McCutchen might be ready, but is his body? He made it through this game healthy, so that's a start.

“I feel healed,” McCutchen said before the game. “That's why I took 15 days, so I won't have to (monitor) it. It's just go out there and play, like I've been playing before.”

His swing looked smooth, but McCutchen went 0 for 4.

“It felt pretty good,” McCutchen said. “Just trying to get back in the rhythm of things.”

As he walked to the plate in the first inning, McCutchen got a standing ovation from much of the crowd of 27,033. He fouled off three pitches from right-hander Aaron Harang (10-7), then took a called third strike.

He stumbled and fell in the batter's box when he grounded out in the sixth inning.

“A weird swing and fall, that's all,” McCutchen said.

With runners on the corners in the eighth, McCutchen bounced into an inning-ending double play.

In the second inning, McCutchen got his first test in the field. With two outs and Andrelton Simmons on second base, Harang dropped a single into center field.

McCutchen got to the ball quickly and made a strong throw, but Simmons beat the ball to the plate to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.

The Braves began the third inning with three straight hits off left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-10). Phil Gosselin and Freddie Freeman singled. Justin Upton hammered a home run into the left-field bleachers. In the fourth, Jason Heyward's RBI single made it 5-0.

Liriano pitched four full innings. In the fifth, he faced four batters without getting an out. He gave up nine runs (seven earned) and 10 hits, walked three and struck out four.

“I was just missing my spots a lot,” Liriano said. “It was one of those nights when anything you throw, they're going to get hits.”

The Braves knocked out Liriano with a five-run fifth. The inning began with a fielding error by shortstop Jordy Mercer, who was back in action after missing four games due to a tight right forearm.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.